Shaping a sustainable digital world

33 ideas  •  57 participants

Crowd voting & idea submission | 8 May - 31 May 2020


2.1 Challenge description & background

The overarching challenge question is: "How can digitization be used to achieve the environmental goals?”

The background to the challenge is the digital transformation processes that have affected all areas of life in our society. Technological progress offers great potential for improving living conditions, but also entails risks. In the context of other mega-trends such as climate change - and the associated negative consequences for both people and nature - it is crucial to actively shape digital change in the interest of environmental goals. With the Agenda 2030 for sustainable development, Switzerland has set itself an important orientation framework. 

In this context, the Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN) has commissioned a study from the BFH to assess the opportunities, challenges and need for action in the field of environmental monitoring and environmental protection in connection with digitization. The results of this study give rise to a campaign on "Shaping a sustainable digital world" (more here), the highlight of which is the virtual Policy-Kitchen Workshop on 8 May 2020.

2.2 Keynote inputs

Keynote Jan Bieser

Jan Bieser is a PhD student at the University of Zurich and conducts research on the effects of digitization on individual time use and the environment.

Keynote Tilman Santarius

Tilman Santarius heads the research group "Digitization and Social-Ecological Transformation" at the TU Berlin and the Institute for Ecological Economy Research.

2.3 Workshop inputs & experts

During the workshop, participants will be split into five thematic breakout groups and in an interactive process develop own ideas. The ideation will be inspired by experts' inputs.

- Circular Economy: There will be two groups. One will be with Laurènce Descamps (input in English), the other with Dirk Hengevoss (English)

  • Laurènce Descamps, Circular Economy Transition lead, Circular Economy Transition local lead, Circular Economy Ecosystem-building national lead, Circular Economy Incubator local lead Impact Hub Zurich and Design Thinking Coach
  • Dirk Hengevoss, Environmental Technology Engineer, Research Associate in Sustainable Resource Management at University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland (FNHW)

Sufficiency (input in German)

Increased efficiency through the use of digital applications (input in German)

- Truth of costs and material transparency (input in English)

- Data exchange and data governance: There will be two groups. One will be with Beat Estermann (input in English), the other with André Golliez (input in German)

Learn more about the experts here.

Find the recorded workshop inputs and further resources here

Sign up to Policy Kitchen and start generating ideas! 

Depending on the participants, workshops will be moderated in German or English. Participants may contribute in their language of choice and policy ideas can be submitted in English, French or German.

2.4 «Call to Action»

What do we want?

You are invited to answer the challenge question "How can digitization be used to achieve the environmental goals?" by developing project or policy ideas. Five focus topics are proposed to structure the question. These topics address the most important fields of action and measures identified in the BFH study on the opportunities & risks of the environment for digitization.

  • Circular economy
  • Sufficiency
  • Increased efficiency through the use of digital applications
  • Truth of costs and material transparency
  • Data exchange and data governance

What happens to the ideas generated by you?

As part of its focus on "Digitization", Stiftung Mercator Schweiz supports civil society projects that work towards sustainable digitization. As co-initiator of the campaign "Shaping a sustainable digital world", it not only sponsors the workshop but also a follow-up event at which selected projects are further developed with professional support. In addition, ideas generated during the workshop can be submitted to the foundation as projects. 

The Federal Office for the Environment FOEN is the federal competence centre responsible for the preparation and implementation of environmental policy measures. By 2022, the FOEN intends to set priorities to make the digital transformation environmentally friendly. The FOEN is therefore pleased to receive sound proposals for possible measures which should be taken into account in this priority action plan.

2.5 The process

Before the workshop

Even before the workshop, you can - regardless of whether you participate in the workshop or not - record a draft for a project or policy idea on the Policy Kitchen platform. To do so, you need to open an account on the Policy Kitchen platform.

The workshop

The actual "Ideation" phase of Policy Kitchen takes place during the workshop. At the end of the Ideation phase, the ideas generated are published on the Policy Kitchen platform, with the authorship of the ideas being stated. 

After the workshop

Once the ideas have been published on the Policy Kitchen platform, they can be evaluated by platform visitors until the end of May. The crowd voting is intended to indicate to the project leader and the partners which ideas will be popular with a broader public and could be particularly suitable for further work in follow-up events coordinated by the BFH in autumn 2020. It is possible to apply for funding from Stiftung Mercator Schweiz with project ideas, regardless of the outcome of the crowd voting.  

2.6 Workshop organizers & partners

Workshop organizers:

  • Flurina Wäspi, BFH, Project leader
  • Prof. Beat Estermann, BFH, Advisory Board, support & coaching of the project leader
  • Nadine Flückiger, BFH, Project office


  • Katia Weibel & Torben Stephan, Stiftung Mercator Schweiz, Advisory Board
  • Markus Wüest, FOEN, Advisory Board

This challenge is organized in cooperation with foraus. Click here for more information about Policy Kitchen.

2.7 More on the workshop organizers and partners

Bern University of Applied Sciences Business Departement

Bern University of Applied Sciences - Business is a department of the Bern University of Applied Sciences. Its mission is to empower prospective specialists, managers and organizations to create value for the digital future. The Business department focuses its research in the areas of Public Sector Transformation, New Work, Digital Enabling and Sustainable Business. As a driving force, the department uses its know-how to accompany and support companies and the public sector in the digital transformation.

Stiftung Mercator Schweiz

Stiftung Mercator Schweiz is committed to a cosmopolitan and engaged society that treats the environment responsibly and offers young people the opportunity to develop their potential. To this end, it initiates, promotes and implements projects in the four areas of education, mutual understanding, participation and the environment. Within the scope of its focus on “digitization”, the foundation deals with current issues of digital change across all topics.

Bundesamt für Umwelt BAFU

The Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN) has a mandate to ensure the sustainable use of natural resources such as soil, water, air, calm and forests. It is responsible for protection against natural hazards, protects the environment and human health from excessive pollution, ensures the preservation of biodiversity and landscape quality and is responsible for international environmental policy.


The independent think tank foraus publishes scientifically sound recommendations for action in the form of discussion papers, brief analyses and blog posts, and organizes high-profile debates with the aim of creating innovative solutions for tomorrow's foreign policy. foraus was founded in 2009 and, as a non-profit grassroots organization, has a comprehensive, nationwide and international network of volunteers


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